The Effects of Alcohol on Driving

effects of alcohol on drivingArizona residents know that driving under the influence will lead to some really harsh penalties. Few people, however, are aware of the extent to which alcohol and drugs affect one’s ability to drive and react on the road.

There’s a reason why driving under the influence is such a serious criminal offense in Arizona. The consequences of being impaired can be severe, contributing to deaths, injuries and property damage in many instances.

Drugs and Alcohol – The Best Way to Increase Reaction Time

Drugs and alcohol have a profound effect on the brain.

Alcohol is a depressant. This means it slows down the activity of the central nervous system. Consuming too much alcohol will reduce your ability to drive safely because of the following:

  • Increased time to react in the case of unexpected occurrences on the road (for example, someone stopping abruptly in front of you)
  • Reduced coordination
  • Drowsiness and sleepiness
  • Impaired or blurry vision
  • Slowed down processing of sensory information
  • Over-confidence and aggressiveness that cause you to do risky things

Drugs can affect you in several ways.

Prescription medications could make you lightheaded, dizzy or drowsy. These side effects are listed on the drug’s information leaflet. Very often, the leaflet will state you have to refrain from driving or operating heavy machinery after taking the respective drug.

Cannabis and heroin are depressant drugs. They act in a manner similar to alcohol when it comes to your reaction time and coordination. Stimulant drugs like amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine speed up the activity of the central nervous system. They can contribute to attention difficulties, aggressive behavior on the road, over-confidence and perception distortion.

Your BAC Level Is Also Important

There are different degrees of impairment. One beer is not going to have the same effect as having four glasses of vodka.

If your BAC is 0.02, you will feel more relaxed and less alert than you typically are. Yes, such a small amount of alcohol in your blood will contribute to reduced driving ability due to decreased visual function and poor judgment.

When your BAC goes up to 0.08 percent, you will experience poor judgment, lack of coordination and self-control, reduced ability to concentrate, increased reaction time and reduced ability to process information quickly.

A BAC of 0.15 or higher will cause extreme loss of balance, poor muscle coordination and bodily control, visual impairment, reduced attention, poor coordination and a massive increase in your reaction time. While the number of fatalities caused by drivers having such high alcohol levels have gone down in both Arizona and across the US, the number of crashes is still high. These are the most dangerous impaired drivers that could injure themselves or hurt others on the road almost immediately after getting behind the wheel.

Combining Drugs and Alcohol

The situation becomes even more troublesome if you combine drugs and alcohol.

Mixing alcohol with ecstasy or cocaine, for example, hinders your ability to drive even more. Some of the stimulants can hide the depressant effect of alcohol. You may feel perky and alert but the reality is different. This false sense of security makes you even more dangerous because you don’t realize just how impaired you are.

To be on the safe side, you should always plan ahead.

When going to a party, have a dedicated driver or book a chauffeur service.

If you believe that you have an alcohol or a drug-related problem, you should seek treatment. Making that first step is the most difficult thing to do but it also happens to be the most responsible course of action.

Don’t over-estimate your ability to drive after alcohol consumption. You may end up arrested or even worse – you could kill someone. Even if you’ve managed to get away with it in the past, the risk is simply not worth it.

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